Town of Leonardtown Honors Local Legend of Moll Dyer Day on February 26, 2023

January 24, 2023

The second annual Moll Dyer Day event is a collaboration between The St. Mary’s County Historical Society, the Commissioners of Leonardtown, Visit St. Mary’s MD, and the Leonardtown Business Association.

The first year was a resounding success, and the exciting plans for this year include a reception at Tudor Hall, an opening ceremony at the Moll Dyer Rock, a family-friendly Spirit Hunt through Leonardtown, a paranormal investigation, and many other special offers and activities hosted by local Leonardtown businesses, including an evening performance by world-renowned Mentalist Duo: The Evasons at the newly renovated, The Rex Theatre.

In 2021, Leonardtown Mayor, Dan Burris, proclaimed February 26th as Moll Dyer Day, to be commemorated annually on the last Saturday in February, in a touching ceremony that was held at Tudor Hall Manor, the home of the famed rock that bears her now faded handprint.

Many know the legend of Moll Dyer, but it’s not as widely known that in the late 1600’s, Dyer was a real woman who lived just south of what is now Leonardtown. She is believed to have been a healer who often aided the community.

However, when an epidemic of influenza arose during the winter of 1697, the Town inhabitants looked to lay blame and named her as its cause. Accused of witchcraft, Dyer was set upon by a mob fearful of the sickness. When they set fire to her small cabin, Dyer escaped into the surrounding woods on a bitterly cold night in February 1698.

Her body was found days later by a young boy looking for lost livestock. She was found with one hand frozen to a large rock and the other outstretched to the sky. Legend has it that Moll put a curse on the land and on the rock. It’s rumored that anyone who touches the rock may become dizzy or even fall ill.

The rock was moved from the Old Jail Museum in 2021 where it sat for almost 50 years to Tudor Hall Manor, the home of the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, where the organization oversees the preservation of this important piece of Southern Maryland history. The Society has helped build a platform and protective covering to shelter the rock from the elements. Since its move, the rock has seen a steady flow of visitors who often leave trinkets and small gifts for Moll.

Peter LaPorte, Executive Director for the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, notes the significance of this event and why this story continues to resonate with us to this day, “The Legend of Moll Dyer and the rock that bears her name are known well beyond Leonardtown and St. Mary’s County,” said Mr. LaPorte. “We’re happy that she and her legend convey across the 325 years since her death an important message for us all. That is, to be kind.”

This enduring message from The Legend of Moll Dyer, “Be Kind” has been chosen as the continuing theme of this year’s event.